Monday, February 26, 2018

Beauty and Tranquility /// Music Monday #18

Iiiit's Muuuusic Moooonday! And I have a picture to prove it.

And today, we will be listening to . . .

"Atonement" from Journey
Composed by Austin Wintory

Now, if you have never heard of Journey before, it's a short indie game where you are simply a robed person who must reach the summit of a mountain. There is no dialogue; you piece the story together via cutscenes and what you learn from the gameplay. You may or may not meet up with a fellow player to travel with. It's very different from a lot of video games out there.

One of the most important aspects of the game is its score. The music changes as you interact with objects in the game, as if it was being recorded just for you. There was even a concert tour once where people got to play the game while the orchestra performed the music live.

This song is one of my favorites from the game. In fact, the whole album is so awesome and relaxing. Whenever I take a nap (which really isn't all that often), the Journey soundtrack is one of the first that I pull out. I've fallen asleep to it numerous times. It's easy to see how it was nominated for Grammy Aware for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.

What's also cool about it is that the track titles, and therefore the game, reference the hero's journey. I think the game is probably very symbolic and open to interpretation. I really wish I could play it, but unfortunately, it's only available for the PS3. So if you happen to have one, you might want to check this game out.

Did you guys enjoy the song? Do you think this is a soundtrack you'd be interested in? Do you have any go-to music for falling asleep?

Friday, February 23, 2018

My Favorite Story Moments

Today's post is gonna be a little bit different. I had originally wanted to do a review of Undertale, but I'm delaying it because I feel a little under the weather at the moment and I really want to be at my best--or at least be better--when I write it. So instead, I'm giving you all several highlights of my writing. If this post is a little shorter, I apologize. But I think it'll be pretty enjoyable! (That's what I'm hoping, anyway, because if not . . . awkwardness ensues.)

But enough of my gibber-jabbering. Here are some of my favorite story moments!

(Just a heads-up: if there are any weird sounding names, it's probably because it's a snippet from one of my LEGO Message Boards stories, and I had other users as the characters. I also apologize if the formatting goes a little wonky, because Blogger and Word don't exactly like each other too much.)


“Please.” Karnu fell to his knees, eyes gleaming with tears. “I can change. I can better myself. Give me a chance, Your Majesty. One chance.”

                “Did you not hear yourself moments ago? You refuse to help innocent people. If you had any honor, you would rush to their aid.” Alaric spread his hands. “You are only concerned about you and how much power you can obtain. You betray the calling of not only a shogun, but also of every man.”

                His body shaking, Karnu clenched his fists and hissed, “Please . . .”

                Alaric sighed to himself. He is afraid of losing his position. I cannot keep him in the council a day longer. He solemnly stood to his feet. “As emperor of Yashan, I hereby declare—”

                Karnu got up as well, eyes wide. “No . . .”

                “—that the province belonging to Karnu and his bloodline—”

                “You can’t do this.”

                “—is no longer counted as such. It shall not be reinstated again—”

                “Just give me a chance!”

                “—nor shall it be considered inhabitable for any man.”

                “I swear I can change!”

                Alaric paused. “As for you, Karnu, any rights as shogun are revoked, and your seat is considered null and void. Because you refused to follow the code of honor, you are a samurai no longer.”

                Karnu looked as though he were rooted to the floor, an expression of horror frozen on his face.

                “From this day onward, you are a ronin. May you find mercy with the Life-Breather.”

                The horror melted away and revealed a face contorted by visceral rage. Karnu snarled a curse and lunged at the dais. Guards moved in and surrounded him. He punched on in the face and elbowed another in the cheekbone. In an act of defiance, he clawed through the group, reaching for Alaric.

                The guards grabbed him by his arms and legs and began to haul him bodily to the doors. “Does it please you to have ruined my life?” Karnu seethed. “To take everything away from me? What does that leave me with?”

                “Nothing,” Alaric replied. “Only a darkened soul.”

                “I vow to shatter your life!” Karnu writhed in the guards’s grips. “I will repay your deeds in kind!”

                The sight before him was torture for Alaric. He knew his actions were right, but he felt sorry for the man who had been devoured by greed. I wish it hadn’t come to this.

                Karnu was still yelling threats. Incurred wrath smoldered in his eyes. “You will come to regret this, fool! You and your precious daughter will never—”

                Alaric’s sorrow snapped, and he thundered, “Silence your tongue! Never shall you touch a hair on Emiko’s head. You are forbidden to enter the palace ever again.”

                The guards escorted the ronin out of the room. Karnu bellowed, “I will not forgive you for this! Do you hear me?! NEVER!”

                The doors slammed shut, and Alaric slumped into his throne. I hope I didn’t finish the creation of my worst enemy.
-excerpt from Darkened Soul



He dropped down to the sidewalk in front of the three-story building. By all appearances, it resembled an unattractive lump of concrete and steel. But inside lay a vault of traffic footage and autonomous systems data from around the island. “The only question is,” he muttered, “how do I get in?”
“Have you tried knocking?”
Ryder put his hands on his hips. “It’s midnight. There’s no one around to let us in.”
“That was sarcasm.”
“Not funny.” He pursed his lips. “There’s no time to get clearance. I have to break in.”
“Hold your horses, big guy. I’ve detected numerous cameras, thermal sensors, and audio detection devices throughout the entire facility. The minute you step foot in there, the heavy police units will show up. I hear they’re programmed to shoot first.”
“Do you have a better idea?”
“No, I have a solution. Give me a few seconds.”
He bit back the remarks that threatened to spill out. I can’t tell what’s affecting me more: Ceinwen’s kidnapping or having to put up with Selah. It had to be 50/50.
“Yay, it worked!” Selah said. If she had a face, she’d be beaming from ear to ear. “I have overridden all security measures.”
“You can do that?” He made no effort to hide his skepticism.
“I can do many things. Unfortunately, security will be back online in roughly ten minutes. You’ll have to hurry.”
In one motion, Ryder swung the plasma rifle off his back, fired three times, and returned it to its original position. The doors burst inward, and he hustled through.
“Not much for subtlety, eh?” She giggled. “That last bit was my Canadian impression.”
“Stellar. Too bad you can’t win an Oscar.”
“I knew an Oscar once. He was my predecessor, but male units don’t do well as personal assistants. We dated a few times, before he was scrapped.”
“How in the blazes can A.I. programs date?” Ryder shook his head. “Forget it. I don’t want to know.”
“We used EpicDatingSim3.exe, which has an astounding 69% success rate.”
He clenched his fists. “Just locate the footage vault already.”
-excerpt from Digital Pulse


She scanned the ground for her harpoon as she said, "So it's currently home team: one, sea beasties: zero. Not bad."
Egor replied, "Well, I guess you could say I fought a 'no-score'pion."
NinjaG couldn't help herself; she laughed, and she laughed hard. It wasn't that she found the joke terribly amusing, but it was good to banter and release the tension.
When she was finished, she said, "That was so lame." She looked up at him, smiling to let him know she was half-kidding.
He shrugged again. "According to the Universal Rules of Combat, the protagonist is allowed to make witty/corny jokes or puns about the antagonist while or after they do battle."
-excerpt from An Old Face, a New Game


I sat on the porch of my cottage and stared at my hands, pale not just in the moonlight, but in the sunlight as well. It had been that way for a few months, and I could feel that the venom of the serpent, which was now called the Great Devourer, had almost broken all of my defenses.
Today, I knew it would overcome me completely.
I stood up. I have to leave, or I’ll hurt my family. I barely took three steps when the cottage door squeaked open. Misako, my beautiful wife, came out, cradling our baby, Lloyd. “You seem quiet this afternoon,” she said. “Is something bothering you?”
I was silent for a moment. “It’s taking over me. The venom, it’s almost got me. I can’t stay.”
She blinked, as if I had spoken the ancient language and she had to translate it. “Garmadon, you… you have to stay.”
“If I do, I risk hurting both of you. I would never live with myself if I harmed a single hair on your head in any way. You must allow me to do what needs to be done. Even as we speak, I can feel it changing me, corrupting me. I must leave.” I swallowed hard.
Tears slid down her face. “Lloyd needs a father. I need a husband. What am I to do without you?” Sobs wracked her body. Lloyd woke up, but remained silent.
I pulled her into an embrace. “Raise Lloyd for me. Be strong. And remember me as I was, not as I’m going to become.” Holding back my own tears, I whispered, “I love you, Misako. Forever and always.” I caressed Lloyd’s head. “Goodbye, Son. When you’re older, do not follow in my footsteps.”
Then I turned and began to walk away. I looked over my shoulder. Misako sat on the porch, crying softly. Lloyd stretched out a hand toward me.
My vision snapped into gray. I waited for it to fade. Lately, it took longer than it used to. I paused another moment.
The color didn’t return.
Not wishing for Misako to see me for the last time with red eyes, I took off and left the village behind me. And you left your family, you coward.
-excerpt from Fall into Darkness



"Never," Yoda shouted. He veered around a corner, and Dumble held on for dear life.
"Up ahead!" Brickman yelled above the noisy motorcycle. "That's him!"
Indeed, Samukai had pilfered a bicycle, and was now riding it at top speeds. Which, truth be told, looked pitiful compared to the motorcycle heading straight toward him.
Samukai glanced over his shoulder. "Good grief!" he cried the instant before the bikes collided.
He flew up into the air, shrieking incoherently. Then he came crashing down, still doing his shrieking routine. He landed in (wonder of wonders) Brickgirl's convertible, right next to the birthday girl in the back.
SSTO grabbed her staff. "Take this, Bone Boy!" She turned on the stun feature and poked Samukai, jolting him. She did it again and again, saying, "C'mon, why aren't you unconscious yet?!"
"Because—ow—I'm strengthened—ouchie—by Dark Magic—YOWSERS!!!" Samukai threw himself out of the convertible and landed in front of the Yoda's motorcycle. "Seriously?!" he yelled.
Yoda collided with Samukai, launching him back a fair distance. He rolled a few times before he stood, eyes blazing with fury. "I will—" he started to say. But Yoda hadn't thought to move in a different direction, so Samukai's threat was cut short as he was thrown forward again.
-excerpt from A Birthday of Epic Proportions


During this onslaught of thoughts, Byron had been silently studying her. Now he spoke again. “Who sent you, Miss Mason? The Anti-Pirate Federation?”
“I came on my own accord. But I know Garrett.” She bit her tongue for giving unnecessary information.
He sneered. “Sir Turner? How dreamy.”
Alonzo snorted with amusement.
Bella felt her face flush. “We’re simply friends. What’s wrong with him, anyway?”
“Besides his bloody band of heroes to the public?” Byron shook his head. “He’s a snobbish upstart whose power was bequeathed at too young an age, and that’s made him manipulative.”
Her ire at the captain’s insults threatening to burst, she set her jaw and stared pointedly.
“So why did he send you?” he inquired.
“He didn’t—”
Suddenly, he was in her face. “Don’t play the court fool with me, Mason,” he growled. “Why did the Federation charge you with the task of assassinating me?”
“Excuse me?!” she snapped, not believing her ears.
“You boarded my airship by force, you were armed, and you assailed my crew. And really, only Turner would send a woman, like the fox he is.”
She scowled. “I didn’t come to kill you.”
“Well then, Alonzo had better fetch the tea and crumpets!” he mocked. “You claimed you desired to meet me; why, pray tell, if not to murder me?”
“To ask a question.”
He rolled his eyes. “And that is?”
She rose to her feet. “Why did you kill my father, Micajah Mason?” Her query was met by an imposing wall of stillness. His polite expression returned. No, no, don’t seal up now! What was he hiding?
Byron said calmly, “Alonzo, bring Miss Mason back to her cell.”
“Aye, sir,” the pirate replied. He grabbed Bella’s arm and marched her out.
The last thing she saw in the office was the Beast gazing out the window once again.

-excerpt from Of Beauties and Beasts


What am I?
I was present at the beginning of the world, and I shall remain until the end.
Some forget about me, and others are aware of my presence.
None can buy nor sell me, for I am immaterial.
No man owns me, but I own every man.
I cannot be gained, but I can certainly be lost.
I am essential to life, but life is not essential to me.
Were I to be erased, the world would surely descend into chaos.
Waste me, and I will punish you eventually. Use me well, and I will award you.
What am I?

I am Time.
-excerpt from Shard of Time


A cold wave of fear blasted through me. I yanked the reins back, bringing my horse to a jerking halt and almost knocking Ninja off.
Standing outside my shop was an armored warrior. His steely gray armor glinted in the early moonlight. His pauldrons and chestplate held glowing purple veins of what reminded me of the Dark Magic I saw this morning. A hood shadowed his face effectively.
In his grip was SSTO, chained up and looking positively frightened.
"SSTO!" I yelled. I jumped off the horse and raced toward the pair.
"Not a step closer, mongrel!" the hooded creep snarled.
Ninja came to my side. "I recognize that voice," she murmured.
The warrior threw back his hood, and Ninja gasped. "Bobsly!"
I took in the guy's blond hair with a black streak in the middle. "This is Bobsly?"
"He stole the Realm Crystal," Ninja said. "The one that could bring back Darkheart."
"I was never and will never be Bobsly," the man growled. "I am Vortex, Darkheart's chief servant. And I have already brought my Master back to Modlandia. Your land is already being consumed by Darkness."
Ninja gasped, but at this point, I couldn't care less. "Let. SSTO. Go," I hissed, seething with anger.
"Her?" Vortex shook SSTO's chains. "You'd trade the fate of your world for her?"
"Yes." It was such a simple word, but it meant so much to me in this dreadful moment.
Vortex chuckled. "I think we both know you're not going to be getting her back. You were warned, weren't you? By your friend there?" He tipped his head in Ninja's direction. "You knew there'd be consequences if you saw the Mods. Darkness has come, and you aren't ready. My Master wishes for you to see what happens when you underestimate the Darkness. You will witness its raw power, and you will wish things had been different."
He raised his free hand. It began to pulse, more rapid with every second. It seemed to resemble my heartbeat.
Then there was a flash, and I could see something dark through my shop's windows. It looked like a starving, ominous hole in space and time. A portal leading to nothing.
Then the wind started. It grew stronger, harder. Loud cracks sounded, glass shattered, brick crumbled. I realized in horror my shop was imploding. The vortex was sucking it in, crumpling it like a discarded paper.
A horrible noise broke the still atmosphere, and the roof buckled. Chunks of the walls were inhaled, and objects inside the shop disappeared into the gaping maw of the portal.
I stared in horror at the chaos unfolding before my eyes. The wind screeched and battered the remainders of my shop. Parts of the stable broke away and vanished into the vortex.
The warrior himself did not seem troubled by the wind in any way, but he kept a firm grip on SSTO's chains. From where I stood, the wind was unable to pull me closer.
One final, earth-shattering noise blasted, and the rest of the building tore off the foundation and disappeared. Vortex's hand flashed again, and the portal diminished in size, though it didn't leave entirely.
SSTO finally spoke up. "Brickman, I'm . . . I'm so sorry."
"It was just a shop." I waved a hand.
"No, it was more than that." She looked into my eyes. "It was your home."
I wanted to say something like, "Homes are overrated." Or maybe even, "Home is where the heart is." But I didn't. Instead I aimed a hard gaze at Vortex. "You've had your little demonstration. Now release her."
Before he could reply, SSTO cut in, "Don't worry about me; just--"
Vortex cuffed her. "Silence!"
A buzz shot up my spine, and sparks flashed in my hands. Voice taut with fury, I growled, "You've crossed the line, creep."
"Have I?" He spoke in dangerously low tones. "Then let me cross it further." He grabbed SSTO with both hands and hoisted her up.
The ghastly realization slammed into me, freezing me in place. "No no no . . ."
He made as if to throw her.
"No-no-no!" I darted forward.
Vortex hurled SSTO.
Right into the portal.
"SSTO!" I yelled.
"BRICKMAN!" she cried.
Then she disappeared, along with the portal.
"NNNOOO!!!" I wailed. Vortex knocked me aside. I lay on the ground, completely still.
"I have done as my Master ordained," he said. "You can either retreat into your grief, or you can go to Brickbook and find your destiny." Then he ran off.
Some horrible sound pushed out of my mouth, a long, hurting cry. The buzz in me intensified. I lifted myself onto my knees and let loose a blast of electricity.
A crack like thunder shattered the night stillness. Street lights and Mod security cameras flickered and went out. I had caused a blackout with my raw power. But I didn't care. Darkness had indeed overwhelmed me.
Tears fell from my eyes, and I doubled over, shaking. "SSTO," I whispered. "SSTO . . ."
Ninja approached me. "I warned you."
I jerked toward her. "Don't," I snarled. "Don't you dare start."
She wisely kept her mouth shut. I walked over to my horse. "I'm going to call you Vengeance," I mumbled. "Because vengeance is mine."
-excerpt from An Awakening of Power


*Brickgirl walks past, wearing her costume*
*Brickman and Soccer stare*
Gideon: *nearby* You know what's in the air? Lo—
*Brickgirl glares at him*
Gideon: Um, lasagna. Lasagna is in the air. I think I can smell the cheese. Far down this hall, I believe. Away. From Brickgirl. *walks away*
*Brickgirl goes away*
*moment of silence*
Soccer: I wonder if he knew we were staring at that spider on the wall.
Brickman: *shrugs* Dunno.
*another moment of silence*
Soccer: Did Brickgirl walk by?
Brickman: *shrugs again* Maybe. I'm not sure. I was entranced with the spider.
Soccer: Yeah, I know. Notice how it has eight legs.
Brickman: *facepalms*
-excerpt from Brickman's Businesses: A Sitcom


"Hush!" Cecil said. "I hear a creature stirring."
Owen paused and heard it as well. He snuck around the bend and stopped instantly. A circular cavern lay ahead, lit by torches. At the center, in a lower area, rested a massive form.
He gulped. It was undoubtedly the mother of the spiders here, and it was currently slumbering, but that fact could change at any moment.
He backed up a couple of steps and waved the other two over. They crept to where he was. Frank let out a sharp gasp, and Cecil paled.
"Quietly now," Owen whispered. He skulked through the doorway and scanned the cavern. They had just exited one of six tunnels grouped together at one side of the cave.
Rotating, he found that each tunnel had a lever on the right side. He grabbed the lever and pulled it. The grinding of aged gears sounded from within the wall, followed by clicks and clacks of mechanisms.
Then a thick blockade sluggishly dropped from the top of the entrance. He frantically tried to lift the lever again, but to no avail. He could only watch as the blockade sealed off their exit.
"Look," Frank said softly, pointing. Directly across the room, a torch that sat higher than the rest had lit up. There were five more, all dormant, with it in a row.
"We need to pull the other levers," Owen hissed. Only one corridor was on his left. He tiptoed to the lever and yanked it. The snap of rusty metal echoed all around, and he was left holding a broken lever.  He flicked a glance at the spider, but it hadn't reacted.
He gently placed the lever onto the floor, then gripped the remainder of it. He tried to press it down. Oh, bother. It's jammed. He put his weight behind it, straining as hard as he could. Another crack, and the lever's stub completed its task.
The noises from the system in the wall made it seem like something had broken. He held his breath.
It was jarred loose as the blockade slammed down. He froze in place, not daring to move. When there was no sound, he turned to look at the others.
A foreleg jabbed into the wall in front of him. He swivelled his head and shrieked.  The spider was mere feet from him. Its beady eyes glowered, and it gnashed its mandibles.

-excerpt from An Old Face, a New Game


Burning hot, yet freezing cold.
Intensely bright, yet horribly dark.
All around, yet nowhere to be seen.
The warped paradox of fear.
Scraping claws.
Gnashing teeth.
Pounding drums.
Scratchy strings.
The chaotic orchestra of fear.
Something probing.
Looking for his fear.
Cold reptilian scales.
Fangs flashing in the sunlight.
Pink eyes devoid of good.
Roars like a nightmare foghorn.
The Great Devourer attacking Ninjago City.
His fear of snakes.
Walls closing in.
Shadowy corners.
Racing heartbeat.
Heavy breathing.
His fear of dark spaces.
One word hissed.
Fear . . .
One word growled.
One word screamed.
He could only curl up pitifully.
-excerpt from The Tournament of Convicts


Gideon gazed at the fortress with a wary eye as he fiddled with the mirror. He could spot only a handful of guards, but he was confident there were far more inside. The doubts he had were assaulting his mind, no matter how hard he tried to stave them off. "You can still back out of this scheme if you want to, Captain."
Brickman fanned himself with his hat, a slight breeze ruffling his hair. "Nothing will change my mind. You had best save your breath for our part of the plan."
"Captain, if we succeed, the governor will chase us to the edge of the world and back. We will be punished as pirates."
A wisp of a smirk touched Brickman's face. "That's the beauty of it. We're treasure hunters, a band of adventurers, not a gang of motley pirates. Therefore, Skul cannot treat us as such."
"If it's down to a matter of classification, he won't care which term we throw around." Gideon folded his arms and turned around. "We'll be thieves either way, and he doesn't tolerate those."
"The whole blooming empire doesn't tolerate thieves!" Brickman stared Gideon in the eyes. "So inform me why people can get away with stealing. And let me correct you on something: we are acquiring the diamond, not stealing it."
"Another matter of terms. Changing the word doesn't change the fact."
Brickman shook his head. "As I said before, there's no need for you to worry, my friend. We'll be out of here quicker than Skul can blink."
From the hill opposite of them came a short flash of light, then a longer one. "There's the signal," Gideon said. He reflected light back to the girls, then put the mirror in his sack. He looked at Brickman, who had moved closer to the cliffside, and spoke the words he had voiced dozens of times in the past: "Ready for anything, Captain?"
Brickman winked. "Always am, always will be."
But Gideon had to wonder if he really was prepared for everything.
-excerpt from Maelstrom


Well, that ended up being longer than I thought it would! I hope you all enjoyed it; there were so many snippets I left out because they were too spoilery or I just didn't have room for them. Which excerpt was your favorite? Would you like to see more posts like this? If you do, would you prefer shorter or longer snippets?

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Music Monday 2017 Awards - Results Announcement

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the conclusion of the first ever Music Monday 2017 Awards!

It is time to announce the results of the final round and find out which song you voted to be the Music Monday of the year. I'm sure you are all super curious, so I won't delay things any longer. (A quick sidenote: I would've posted this earlier, but I've been busy today. That's why this is so late.)

But that's neither here nor there! As you may recall, in the last round, the three songs were:

"Ice of Phoenix" by Audiomachine

"So Far Away" by Gabriel Brown and Michelle Creber

"The Avengers" from The Avengers

There were ten votes this time, which means one more person decided to participate. Perhaps this is a sign that we'll get even more voters next year. Here are the results . . . *dramatic drumroll*

First off, "The Avengers" came in third, with 0 votes. I'm unsure as to whether I should feel surprised or not. While this is certainly one of the most iconic superhero themes to have ever been composed in our time, it apparently wasn't as popular and favored as the other two.

Coming in second is "Ice of Phoenix" by Audiomachine. The song received 4 votes, proving its worth in the Music Monday battlefield. An epic song of heroism and adventure, with a range of emotions throughout and personal memories attached, it nearly nabbed the proverbial trophy in the end. (Fun fact: the song was actually the second track chosen for Music Monday!)

And of course, if you somehow haven't figured out by now, the immensely popular song--with 6 votes in this round--was . . .

So why did people like this song so much? First off, the video has some absolutely stunning and gorgeous footage of space from the International Space Station. It makes you realize just how vast and detailed the expanse beyond Earth really is.

But a music video can't make up for a bad song. There has to be something deeper, and I think that the reason this song won was because it speaks to everyone. Gabriel and Michelle express their desire for a deeper, more meaningful purpose in life. Do we just live on this spinning ball of dust and then die?

No, we don't. Without explicitly saying so, the song refers to God. "And we are not along, but we are drawn away by something I can't explain. It doesn't feel right, but this is our fight, and we will carry on because we long to know the things we can't explain." This is a basic human desire: to live above the mundane and leave a legacy. God helps us realize those dreams and accomplish that, and we strive to carry on day after day.

Lastly, Gabriel and Michelle's voices blend so well. They're both very talented artists, and I hope they'll put out more albums together. I don't care for a lot of male and female singers, but I could listen to these two constantly and not get tired of them. The fact that most people hadn't heard of them before also contributed to the win.

Here are some comments about the winning track:

"After I first heard this song in the first round, I quickly added it to my Spotify playlist and iTunes library . . . And it's been on repeat." -Preston Hiew

". . . I was blown away by 'So Far Away' and I loved its video." -A.R.

"It resonates with me in some way that I can't even explain, but it says what I've been trying to. It's been really good for me, actually." -Brianna Stacyn

"It's a super good song to me . . . I now love to listen to Gabriel Brown and Michelle Creber. (´・ω・`)" -Lostfairy

"I absolutely love 'So Far Away' and the ISS footage video (that almost made me cry) with it . . ." -Megan Hiew

". . . AH ITS SU GOOD." -Chloe

Seems like the winner for this year was an excellent--and popular--choice! What did you think of the song, as well as the Awards in general? Are you looking forward to next year, when we'll have double the songs to choose from? Any constructive criticism you could offer me as the host? Congrats to Gabriel and Michelle for creating such an amazing song and music video!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

If This Story was a Shoe, It'd be a Flip-Flop /// Humble Beginnings, Part 8

Well, it is that time again. That special Friday (at least, that's the day it should've been) that only comes once a month. The one of mockery. The one of poor writing. The one of much sarcasm.

Yes, it's Humble Beginnings time once more! Let's see how the story flops today, shall we?


Before I get into it, the chapter we're looking at today is titled . . . "Battle in Malanthiv." Seriously. That's got to be one of the most boring titles I've ever seen in my life. If you've read anything of mine from the past few years, you'll know I'm much more into creative titles, like ones that utilize funny wordplay. Not this boring "Battle in Malanthiv" stuff.

Xander groaned. "You mean the rebels actually let them march in?"

I still don't know how I feel about this "rebel" stuff. I think it was done poorly, much like the rest of the story. What else is new?

"How many?" David queried.
Smits shook his head. "You'll want to see this," he said grimly.

Ah, the ever-popular-and-very-cliché quote! This is, what, the third time he's said it in the story so far? Maybe the fourth? Once was bad enough, thank you!

As they jogged to the armory, Mark looked at Warren and said, "You know, that's gotta be the third time he's said that."
Warren grinned. "It's probably a quote of his."

Believe it or not, I actually hadn't seen this part yet when I made the above comment. That's awesome! It's not really breaking the fourth wall, but it kinda is? Well, actually, it's more like the characters are a bit self-aware. I like that. I don't know why, but I do.

"Bless me beard," Reuben exclaimed. "There's a lot of 'em. I would say 'bout . . . fifteen thousand." 
Brook whistled. "That's triple our forces, at the most. Not nice odds."

You guys only have a five thousand-strong army? Is it just me, or is that kinda small? *makes a mental reminder to double-check numbers like these in the future*

The knights roared with approval, long and loud. When they were doing so, Mark felt as if he should look behind him. There was nothing unusual, just a farmer, oblivious to the nearing creatures, leading several horses with a farmhand. A blacksmith was cleaning up some corseques, and another man was putting the finishing touches on chariots that would be able to have two men stand side-by-side.
Suddenly, the gears of his mind clicked. He tapped Brook's arm and spoke softly with him. Brook turned to the high general, his eyes gleaming. "Mark has a plan."

Let's go over what's wrong with this scene. These people are completely unaware that a massive army is bearing down on their city? HOW THE BRICK IS THIS? Are they deaf to the sound of the approaching enemy? Are they blind and can't see the good guys rallying around the wall? Are the soldiers not evacuating civilians to prevent needless casualties? What's going on here?! And then to top it all off, we have the convenient "silent conversation" that we should technically be hearing if we're really in Mark's head. What a mess . . .

King Bweu of the creal at the city wall that loomed closer and closer. It flew down to the one in charge of this army's terrax. "Sarkes," it said in a voice neither male nor female, "where is Commander Klund of the arabon?"

Bweu? How in the world do you say that name? And the creal are genderless, huh? . . . I better move on before I start making "politically incorrect" comments. You guys remember Sarkes, though, right? You know, the dude from part three of this series? Yeah, well, he's back, so that's a thing that happened.

"Good. We'll continue a straight course to the city, break through the wall, and kill the Chosen Ones."
Another glance, and Sarkes hesitated. "But Bweu, wouldn't it be better if we would divide forces and battle in more than one way?"

Sarkes would be excellent at my job.

All of a sudden, chariots raced down the road at full speed. Two fully-armored knights stood in each one, gripping lances. Corseques were attached to the horses and designed to impale foes.
Sarkes was barely able to jump out of the way of one. The chariots slammed into the ranks and began paving roads of death.

It was a good thing those civilians all conveniently decided not to seek shelter because they were conveniently working on these things that conveniently go together to make a convenient way for the good guys to start winning. Conveniently, of course. (Not going to deny it, I also love the "paving roads of death" phrase.)

"Is that a--?" The terrax's question was cut short when the object careened into a trebuchet. Siege weapons were reduced to splinters as rocks plunged onto them from perfectly placed catapults.

Really? Perfectly placed? Stop with the convenient ways out, younger me!

The creals descended so as to fight at a closer range. One swung its mace toward an archer near Mark and made contact. Blood squirted from the man's throat, landing upon the Canadian's hauberk.

We're back to the violence now, are we?

Just as he sprang forward, the creal descried him and shrieked. Mark hacked off its head so hard it flew a short distance. He exhaled, letting the sour fury out. "Not a very Christ-like thing to do."

In other news, scientists have discovered that water is actually wet!

"So so," the young man replied. He wiped sweat from his stringy brown hair that clung to his forehead. His face had very distinct German features. "Thanks for helping me with that, that thing." He spat on the creal's fallen body. 
Mark had to ask, "How come you hardly have an accent?"

I see a few things wrong here. One, what are "distinct German features," and would it be considered racist to call them such? Two, it's "that . . . that thing," not "that, that thing." Three, what spitting on an enemy corpse gain you, aside from a slightly drier mouth? Four, REALLY, MARK? You're asking about accents on the battlefield?

"Then let's go. These creal won't kill themselves, unfortunately."
Mark liked Vince already.

Because he made a suicide joke? *raises an eyebrow* Also, I see I was once again plagued by inconsistent pluralization. I called the creatures "creals" before, but now Vince is calling them "creal"? What gives?

David's sword whirled through the arabon's ribs, adding another point to his fellow knights' score. He was entertained slightly by imagining that this was a game.
"He swings, he scores!" David commentated as he fought. He threw a knife that plowed deep into a terrax's eye. The creature arms jerked, then he flopped to the ground, dead.
"Another one bites the dust," cried David. He went like that for awhile until he bumped heads with Commander Klund, literally.

David, what is wrong with you? Someone, take this man off the battlegrounds! He's not fit for duty. He thinks this is a BRICKING GAME. And I forgot to add an apostrophe "s" to "creature." Way to catch all them mistakes, self!

Klund was ducking a slash from a knight, and David had lowered his head to ram into the commander, whom he had mistaken for a regular arabon. Their helmet-protected craniums collided with a brutal force. Klund and David staggered back a few paces, slightly dazed. The knight who had attacked the arabon was engaged by another foe.

As comical as this is, I'm having trouble picturing the scene. How did Klund duck the slash? Did he lean back or to the side, and then David just comes charging in without fear of catching the tail end of the sword's movement? I'd also like to know if they got concussions from this, as they apparently hit each other brutally.

David mowed down a few creatures and leaped upon the back of a reptror, giving chase. As he neared the commander, Klund turned and saw him. He snarled a deep noise in his throat. David stabbed at him, but he blocked in the last second. Klund was about to make a move when David grabbed his neck and pulled him off the chariot. The human took out a knife that Klund feel go into his spine. He stiffened and jabbed David's stomach with his pointly elbow. David felt himself slip off, hitting the ground sharply.
Then everything faded into a buzzing blackness.

So the reptror allow just anyone to hop on them and ride them wherever they please? If these are enemy mounts, shouldn't they be trained to, I dunno, buck humans off and trample them or something? And don't you usually snarl in your throat? Or are there people who snarl elsewhere? What about blocking "at," not "in," the last second? Why do Klund English bad and feel knife go in spine? Why does David feel himself falling off the reptror? SO MANY QUESTIONS AND LITERALLY NO ANSWERS!

Sarkes was on a killing spree when he found it. Or maybe it found him. It soared a good distance from the ground in an arc before landing at Sarkes' feet. It was Bweau's head.

Was this how golf was invented in Erador? Because that's plagiarism.

Warren swung his hammer point-blank at the arabon he was facing. The arabon's ribs caved in, and he died speedily.

Oh, thank heavens! I would have never had guessed what would happen to someone's ribs if they were hit by a hammer. I'm so glad I was told this . . . NOT.

Sarkes growled and dashed off. Warren wondered what the terrax captain was doing. He got his answer when he saw Sarkes coming at him on a fierce reptror.

Let me get this straight: Warren was just standing there like an idiot, waiting for Sarkes to come back and attack him? Someone, get this man off the battlefield! He doesn't belong here!

Warren decided to try Lucas's move in the Battle of the Levgalne. He leaped, gripped a horn, and swung his legs. Sarkes was hit, but he didn't fall off like the raider chieftain had. Warren began to fall and managed to pull himself up. The reptror, however, disliked the movement. Warren felt the stead tense and knew what was about to happen, so he started to strangle Sarkes with his beefy arms.

I feel Warren's like a guy saw the hero in a movie pull off an epic stunt and tries to imitate it, only to be like, "Oh, crap, this is harder than it looks, and now I might die." Or something similar. But Sarkes is just taking it all, not even fighting back. At least this reptror is better trained than the last. (Is it just me, or is that sentence about Warren falling and pulling himself up just super underwhelming? It's such a boring sentence!)

Sarkes punched first, but Warren caught the blow. Then he struck Sarkes' nose with a granite hand. Bone cracked and blood spurted out of his nose. Sarkes stumbled backwards, clutching his now broken nose.

Well, who NOSE how violent this story going to keep getting? Sorry, couldn't resist.

Three hours later, the humans arrived at Juinq, a bustling city what was almost as grand as Malanthiv, though in a different way. They were too late to catch the arabon, terrax, and creal army remainder, who were finished getting onto their ships and sailing out of the inlet. And the worst part was that none of the rebels were trying to stop them.

A three hour chase? That's pretty long, and the perfect opportunity for the bad guys to attack the city from the other side. *shrugs* But I'm not a tactician, so what do I know? I apparently know nothing of good descriptions for cities, that's for sure. At least, back then. And can someone explain to me why ALL of the rebels are just letting the baddies escape? Not one of them has a shred of good in them? Unbelievable, in more ways than one.

"I SAID SHUT IT!" Alex screamed. "Maybe this will teach you to listen better." He prepared to slam his hands against Mark's ears, which, if done hard enough, could cause a person to become deaf.

And now for random fact insertion from a floating invisible head's POV.

Warren shoved the measly soldier into a house wall. "This will teach you to make an effort to harm my friends." He kneed Alex in the groin, then placed a finger under his nose and pushed strongly upward. There are a lot of nerves in that area, so such an action would cause much pain.

Take a chill pill, dude! Just break Alex's nose like you did to Sarkes. And while you're at, QUIT INSERTING TRIVIA!

"Hey, where is David?" questioned Smits.

*facepalm* You guys are only noticing his disappearance now? Some friends you are.

Warren nodded his agreement. "That's the last time I think the name Taylor sounds stupid for a male."

Heeey, Warren, don't be so SWIFT to judge. (Plus, I actually like the name Taylor for a guy.)

"And that doesn't help the problem with the creal eggs running out." Leviathan's brow dipped. "Did you even see the Chosen Ones?"

See? This is a prime example why Leviathan is a stupid villain. The creal are going extinct, yet he puts one--a dumb one at that--in charge of a large army and is miffed when the creal die. Like, what the brick, man?

"I saw Lance and Reuben, but not Xander," Alex answered.


You guys think Lance, Reuben, and Xander are the Chosen Ones? You literally have no reason to even believe that for one millisecond! And if you have no reason, the reader definitely doesn't! *covers my face with my hands* The Chosen One trope definitely doesn't belong in this story . . .

"And what about you, Commander Klund?" queried Leviathan.
The arabon was standing at an odd angle. His right eye was split in two, one half dangling out. "I was assaulted by a knight who throws knives well." Klund gestured to his eye.

I'm not sure whether to be grossed out by the injury, or amused by Klund's delivery, or both. He's boss, though. He managed to get back to the base with a knife to the spine. Give this man--er, monster--a medal!

Leviathan paused, then spat an orb of fire than engulfed the commander. Klund's left eye widened. Soon, all that remained was a smoking pile of ashes.
"Sarkes, go tell Ryl that he got promoted to commander," the dragon instructed. Sarkes bowed his head and went.

Or, you know, just burn him instead. He doesn't even scream when being fried to a crisp. He just stands there. Boss, I tell ya.

Leviathan tapped his chin. "If I assist you in getting revenge, will you return the favor?"

You kill Klund, but not Alex? No consistency there.

"Ssen and Hcol!" Leviathan called. The virockel lumbered into the private chambers. Virockel are broad and humanoid, and completely rock, except for their glowing lava veins.

See what I did there? They're names are Loch Ness, but just flipped around! . . . I have no idea why. And what amazing word skills! Evidently, I was terrible at descriptions for anything back in the day.

"Tall, black hair and beard, muscular."

Alex is just as bad, because this description of Warren could be anyone! If Leviathan hadn't told the virockel their target's name, they would've been killing a bunch of random people. It's just a generic, bland way to describe Warren.

Leviathan watched Alex leave. The human knew the consequences of failure. "Soon," Leviathan thought almost gleefully, "I will strike the enemy's heart. And Lurkum shall rule."

*yawns (actually yawned in real life)* Oh, I'm sorry, were you making a threat/malevolent statement? It was so boring, I almost fell asleep there.

And that's the end of it for today! Hopefully the next one can be the vlog edition of this post. What did you guys think? Was I sarcastic enough for you? Was there sufficient violence? WAS IT INDEED A FLIP-FLOP?! 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Music Monday #17

If the title of this post somehow didn't give it away, it's time for some more music!

Today, our song is . . .

"The Tale of Tormak" from LEGO Legends of Chima
Composed by Anthony Lledo

In case you don't know, Legends of Chima was a three-season show that featured anthropomorphic animal tribes. While some of the stuff was kinda New Age-ish, it was a decent show. I'd still like to finish it to see how it ended.

The music, however, is absolutely fantastic! It's far more mature than what you'd think would play in a kid's TV show. The track I chose for today is one of my favorites from the two soundtracks.

Because I haven't seen much of the third season yet, where this song plays, I have no idea what the tale in question is even about. I love the movement between the three moods in the music. It starts off with something quieter and suspicious. Then it changes to sorrowful, with a beautiful flute playing a mournful tune. The rest of the track is hopeful and adventurous, making it a very well-round piece of music.

But if I simply played this song for you without telling you where it's from, would you guess an animated LEGO show? I don't think so, and the genius of it. Music helps so much in creating a story on the big screen, and the maturity in Chima's soundtrack adds depth to the whole thing. In fact, LEGO has always composed mature music for their movies and shows--from what I've seen and heard, anyway.. Even The LEGO Movie soundtrack, the bounciest, "childish" one, has the right "adult" tunes at the right moments.

If you haven't listened to or bought any of LEGO's scores, I highly encourage you to. They're some of my favorites, and I'll definitely be featuring more of them on my blog. Not all of the Chima tracks are available on YouTube, but they are all on Spotify. Just thought I'd mention that. The same goes for the Ninjago show's music as well.

What did you think of this track? Better than what you thought it would be? Have you listened to any of the LEGO soundtracks before? Do you have a favorite LEGO movie or TV show?